Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

24 posts categorized "National Gathering"

VIDEO: Highlights from Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition

USAID Administrator Raj Shah at the Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition event (Joe Molieri/Bread for the World).

On Monday,  international government representatives, global nutrition experts, activists, and civil society leaders assessed progress made since September 2010—nearly 1,000 days ago—when the United States and Ireland launched the 1,000 Days Call to Action and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.

At the "Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition" meeting, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s financial commitment to addressing maternal and child malnutrition and committed to building a partnership with U.S. nongovernmental organizations to leverage private resources in this fight.

“Today, we have the opportunity to join our voices together-to draw strength from the past 1,000 days and seize the next 1,000 days to achieve progress that was unimaginable in the past,” Dr. Shah said. “The vision that guides our mission starts with the people our governments represent and who are reflected in our invaluable civil society partners who have long championed efforts to advance global nutrition.”

During the meeting, Interaction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based NGOs international , announced that its members have pledged more than $750 million in private funds over the next five years to improve nutrition—including efforts that focus on the 1,000-day window between a woman's pregnancy and her child's second birthday.

For more highlights from the meeting, watch the brief video below.


Social Media and Bread for the World’s Lobby Day


Today, June 11, is Lobby Day! If you're not joining us in person, you can still participate virtually. Making calls is a great way to support the advocates from your state who will be in Washington, D.C., today, as is using social media. 

Share the social media updates from Lobby Day participants, and send your own messages to your members of Congress, too. Your virtual participation helps spread the message that everyone deserves a place at the table.

Are you on Facebook?

1. Search for your member of Congress and “like” their page (this allows you to tag them).
2. Write a status update that tags your member(s) of Congress and includes the two key messages of Lobby Day: 1) Protect SNAP and improve international food aid in the farm bill, and 2) Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that includes both revenues and sensible cuts.
  • Example: “Sen.@RonWyden, my fellow Oregonians are visiting you this afternoon during @Bread for the World Lobby Day. They will ask you to please protect programs for hungry and poor people--and I am asking you, too!

Are you on Twitter?

All but a couple of our members of Congress are on Twitter--it's a great way to connect with your senators and representative. Tweets are short and sweet--tag your member of Congress,  include one of the key messages. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BreadRising! We will retweet you from @bread4theworld, so that both members of Congress and the advocates on Capitol Hill will be able to see your support.
  • Sen. @RonWyden: Pls protect funding for #SNAP and #foodaid in the #farmbill. #breadrising

If you have questions or need additional help,message Sarah Godfrey or Robin Stephenson—the members of Bread’s social media team—on Twitter or Facebook.

Join Bread's Annual Lobby Day from Wherever You Are

Bread OH 2 Cinti Wenstrup

Photo: Bread for the World members in Ohio recently had an in-district meeting with Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH02). (l-r) Ceal Bellman, Laura Hovland, Nick Yoda, Rep. Wenstrup, Mary-Cabrini Durkin, Sydney Prochazka, and Cindy Browne.

Tomorrow, June 11, is Bread for the World’s annual Lobby Day. Each year, Bread for the World’s National Gathering culminates in a day dedicated to putting our faith into action by taking a message to Congress. You can join the chorus of voices urging our lawmakers to create policies that ensure everyone has a place at the table,

Your voice could not be more important right now, and just because you aren’t in Washington D.C., doesn’t mean you can’t participate. Sequestration is chipping away at critical and effective anti-hunger initiatives. There are efforts to cut SNAP (formerly food stamps) and international food aid in the farm bill.

Lobby Day participants will meet with members of Congress or their legislative staff in D.C. Imagine if they walk into a congressional office that has already received hundreds of calls preparing the member of Congress for the message they will deliver. When a Bread member says, “I am just one of the many Christians from your state/district who believes that the choices we make today will make a difference for poor and hungry people tomorrow,” your call will add impact to that statement.

Last week, Ohioans held an in-district meeting in Cincinnati (see photo), which will amplify Tuesday's Lobby Day visit for participants from that state. You can similarly add your voice and support with a simple phone call that will only take a few minutes of your time. 

Call or email your senators and representative today.  Use our special toll-free number (1-800-826-3688) and make sure to let them know you are a Bread for the World member.  Leave a message with the receptionist and ask your member of Congress to:

1.  Protect SNAP and improve international food aid in the farm bill.

2.  Replace sequestration with a balanced plan that has both revenues and sensible cuts.

Get the same resources that in-person participants will be using on our Lobby Day web page.  You can include additional facts from our Lobby Day talking points or share your personal story.

Even one voice has the power, but many voices in unison calling for a world where all God’s children have enough is a testament to the power of God’s love and grace--and just might move Congress, too.

First Look: 'Lazarus: The Musical'

The first day of Bread for the World's 2013 National Gathering closed with an amazing treat: the debut of a new interpretation of Lazarus!

Lazarus is an original Bread for the World musical about hunger and poverty, created by Rev. Joel Underwood in the 1980s. Last night, a new version, with music and arangements by noted musical director Bill Cummings, debuted. The words and the story, however, were unchanged: the musical was based on the parable, found in Luke 16:19-31, featuring the story of a rich man (Dives) and a beggar (Lazarus) and their relationship in life and in the afterlife.

We'll be uploading a few video and music clips in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here are a few photos from last night's performance to tide you over.

Ending Hunger is an Audacious Call

Photo: Rev. Dr. James Forbes at the June 8 homiletic workshop. (Sarah Godfrey)

By Robin Stephenson

He is called the "preacher’s preacher" and today’s homiletics workshop during Bread for the World’s National Gathering made that clear: Rev. Dr. James Forbes, speaking to a roomful of preachers and participants, said preaching must engage people in scripture and show a truth that will impact and transform behavior. He also had a message for Bread members responding to hunger.
“If my sermon is right, people will leave with a fresh sense of urgency to do what they are called to do," Rev. Forbes said.
He used the example of Luke 8:40-56 and presented the heart of the gospel that “punches a hole in the darkness.” The daughter, who is raised from the dead, shows us that not only does God pay attention to detail, but that food is an essential component of creation. After telling the child to get up, Jesus commands the people to feed the child. “Jesus understands that although the first half of the miracle is re-starting her metabolic process, she is not fully healed," Rev. Forbes said. "She needs food.” 

Food is not a minor detail, Rev. Forbes reminded us, but is essential to the fulfillment of God’s creation–before even creating us, in Genesis, God creates food. “If God in creation provides food,” Rev. Forbes said, "it is an anomalous situation to have a world where some people can’t eat.” Thus, starvation and hunger are a distortion of creation and our call is to heal the world–even when faced with the obstacle of disbelief.

When performing the miracle, Jesus is faced with laughter. The power of healing and wholeness comes through faith. Ending hunger, as Bread for the World members are called to do, must be anchored in our faith.
Belief requires great audacity and it is what Christians responding to hunger in today’s world must rely on–even if the work is spurned. This can be a challenge, for Christians: “If you live in a nation that doesn’t believe everyone needs to eat, there is a great deterrent in that mentality," Rev. Forbes said. "[E]specially if that mentality is present in the Congress of the United States.”
Over the next few days, National Gathering participants will be grappling with that call:  how do we create the political that will allow everyone a place at the table?  And on Tuesday, June 11, participants will take their message to the halls of Congress with the audacity of faith.
Rev. Forbes is preaching and teaching homiletics workshops across the nation this year with Bread for the World.  Ask your organizer if there is an upcoming event in your area and be sure and check our events page for upcoming appearances.

Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.

Join Us for the National Gathering--On Social Media

BreadrisingFINAL1By Robin Stephenson

The plane tickets have been bought, bags are being packed, and in just two days, Bread members will gather in Washington, D.C. Just like the title of Art Simon’s book says, "Bread will Rise" beginning this Saturday and culminating in Lobby Day (Tuesday, June 11), when our members will take the outcry to end hunger to the offices of our legislators. We hope you will join us as well.

If you can’t physically come to this year’s Gathering, you can still participate virtually. Follow our social networks—this blog, Facebook, and our Twitter feed—and we'll keep you informed of what is happening with recaps, pictures, and more. The social media team and National Gathering participants will be live tweeting the workshops using the hashtag #BreadRising

Workshops will cover such diverse, yet interconnected, topics as immigration, foreign assistance, tax reform, malnutrition, and agriculture. Skills workshops designed to enhance the power of our advocacy will cover everything from how to create public dialogue to telling your story.  And you won’t want to miss inspiring words from keynote speakers like renowned preacher Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Esperanza President Rev. Luis Cortes, and USAID administrator Raj Shah. 

On Tuesday, as we head to Capitol Hill for Lobby Day, you can support Bread members from your home state as they tell our lawmakers that everyone deserves a place at the table. Participants will be tweeting about their meetings and posting pictures on their Facebook pages. We encourage remote participants to call their members of Congress, and use your social networks to amplify the message that polices in the farm bill must protect the most vulnerable and that it is time to put an end to sequestration and agree on a balanced, long-term plan for the nation's fiscal sustainability. 

You can follow each day's events by downloading the National Gathering event program. Pack your virtual bag and join the conversation on social media as we gather in our nation’s capital this weekend. There is more than enough food in the world to feed all people, yet millions still go hungry. Now is the time to gather the political will to follow Jesus' teaching and ensure a place at the table for the least of these. 

Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.

The Story of Bread for the World's Original Musical 'Lazarus'

Lazarus-poster-small-versionBy Sarah Godfrey

In 1986, Rev.  Joel Underwood, then a Bread for the World staffer, decided to take a sabbatical, but wondered how he would fill those months. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and [Bread for the World founder] Art Simon said, ‘Do what you’ve always wanted to do, but never could,’” Underwood recalls. “I said ‘I want to do a musical.’ He said I should write one on hunger and poverty, and I said ‘Well, gee whiz, why not?’”

Underwood says what immediately popped into his mind was the parable about the rich man and the poor man in Luke 16:19-31. 

“When I went home that evening, I went through that passage with the idea to see how many song titles I could create out of that story,” he recalls. He came up with 21 titles, 19 of which would be used for his musical, Lazarus. “It all fell right into place.”

Lazarus was designed to lift up the problem of hunger, and also be fun to perform, Underwood says. The plan worked: after its 1986 premiere at Catholic University’s Hartke Theatre, the piece (written by Underwood, with music arranged by Louise F. Carlson and Sam V. Nickels) would go on to be performed thousands of times across the globe: in the United States, El Salvador, Australia, India, Egypt, and other countries.

At Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering, Lazarus will be performed yet again, this time as a completely reworked, updated version of the original. The new Lazarus debuts Saturday, June 8, at 7 p.m. at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C.

“When Joel left, [Lazarus] went by the wayside, but I still saw potential in it,” says Bishop Don diXon Williams, Bread’s associate of African-American church relationships. “If we are talking about being grounded in God’s love and having different resources and ways to get people to become involved in hunger issues and advocacy, to me nothing reaches out more than the arts, than music.”

Continue reading "The Story of Bread for the World's Original Musical 'Lazarus'" »

A Look Back at 'Lazarus'

Lazarus-poster-small-versionBy Carlos Navarro

"One has risen from the dead, and rich Christians confess this at their table, and yet poor Lazarus, in millions, continues to hunger and to perish from hunger at their door.  The point of this parable is not, as is often suspected, the consoling pipe-dream of heaven for poor Lazarus.  It is addressed exclusively to the rich man.  It is not meant to console the poor with the hope of recompense beyond the grave, but to warn the rich of damnation and to incite them to hear and act in the world."  —Helmut Gollwitzer, from The Rich Christians and Poor Lazarus

I have been involved in Bread for the World for more than 30 years, and some of my best memories include attending a handful of performances of Lazarus, a musical written by Joel Underwood.  Joel served in many capacities at Bread (including as director of church relations), but his musical based on Luke 16: 19-31 is part of the strong legacy he is leaving for our grassroots anti-hunger movement.

My experiences of Lazarus include two very different but powerful interpretations of the musical.  I had the privilege of watching a gospel version of the play performed by a very talented cast at Mount Carmel Church of God in Christ in Kansas City, Kan.  Marie Frasure, who was part of the leadership team for Bread in the Kansas City area during the '80s and '90s and a member of Mount Carmel, was the one who convinced the church's musical director Paul Sims to take on this endeavor.The other adaptation of Lazarus that I attended was  in the Albuquerque area, at Rio Rancho Presbyterian Church.  This was a much smaller, but equally compelling, version. Rev. Kay Huggins, a Bread member and pastor of the church at the time, was the one who brought the play to our community. There have been many other versions of Lazarus performed around the country over the years, including a one-person show by Harriet Harlow Larsen (with accompaniment by Lou Ann Rice).

Balladoflazarus334On June 8, a revival of Lazarus will premiere at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C.  This revival version will kick off Bread for the World's National Gathering this year. This revival version keeps the lyrics of the songs intact, but noted musical director Dr. Bill Cummings added a contemporary touch to the arrangements.

There is good news and bad news regarding the Washington, D.C. performance. The good news is that the show is sold out: While many of those in attendance are Bread for the World members participating in the National Gathering, there are many others from the Washington-Baltimore metro area who will experience this story in words and music. And the bad news is: the show is sold out. But hopefully there will be additional opportunities to see the new Lazarus.

Carlos Navarro has been a Bread member for over 20 years and has led Bread’s presence in New Mexico for the last decade. He maintains the Bread for the World New Mexico website and blog, and serves on the Bread for the World board of directors.

Put On Your Comfortable Shoes and Join Us

Photo: The street sign for Bread for the World's 2011 Lobby Day. (Jim Stipe)

By Christine Melendez Ashley

Wear comfortable shoes. That’s the most practical advice I can give you if you’re planning to join us for Bread for the World’s Lobby Day on Tuesday, June 11.

We’ll be walking the halls of Congress, meeting with senators, representatives, and their staffers—asking them to protect programs vital to hungry and poor people. On the morning of June 11, we will convene at the Mead Center in Washington, D.C., for worship, issue briefings, and practice sessions before heading to Capitol Hill to meet with our members of Congress.

Lobby Day is free, but registration is required. Please let us know today if you'll be able to join us. This allows us time to coordinate meetings with your members of Congress.

We will provide meals, talking points, shuttle transportation to and from congressional office buildings, and a closing service and reception. Comfortable shoes not included.

See you there!

Christine Melendez Ashley is a policy analyst with Bread for the World.


If you are participating in Lobby Day, please join us on Wednesday, May 29, at 3 p.m. ET for our pre-Lobby Day training webinar!

Looking for a Meaningful, Exciting Experience This Summer?

Rebekah Richey of Altamonte Springs, Fla., and Jenny Millkey of Palmetto, Ga., laugh during the opening plenary session of Bread for the World's 2011 Gathering. (Rick Reinhard)

By Dr. Alice Walker Duff

Please join us for Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering and have a meaningful and exciting experience. It’s not too late, and you can still receive a special discounted rate if you register by May 31.

This year’s National Gathering, themed “A Place at the Table,” offers the opportunity to worship, learn, take action — and have some fun, too. You’ll attend informative workshops, see the inspirational musical Lazarus, and hear from world-renowned preachers, international development and nutrition experts, and high-ranking government officials and members of Congress.

On June 10, Bread for the World Institute will convene its International Meeting, which will renew the 1,000 Days Call to Action to increase the political will to improve maternal and child nutrition. Raj Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and Joe Costello, minister of state at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Trade and Development, will give both give keynote speeches at the meeting.

Kristi Jacobson, one of the directors of A Place at the Table, will participate in a special June 9 session about the documentary, along with three of the people featured in the film—Pastor Bob and Michaelene Wilson of Plateau Valley Assembly of God Church in Colbran, Colo., and Barbie Izquierdo, a hunger activist from Philadelphia, PA.

The renowned Rev. James Forbes, named as one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world by Newsweek, and Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr., president and CEO of Esperanza, will lead us in powerful praise and prayer.

This dynamic event comes at a crucial time for our advocacy. On June 11, we’ll take our message of ending hunger to Congress during Lobby Day.

Don’t miss this. Join us in setting a place at God’s abundant table for everyone.

Dr. Alice Walker Duff is Bread for the World's managing director.


Register online by May 31 for the special discounted rate of only $210 ($175 for students) at www.bread.org/gathering.

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